For us ordinary mortals, fame and fortune would be more than enough. But in the realm of world-famous athletes, supermodels and singers, sometimes that just isn’t enough. The lure of Hollywood is strong and some celebrities succumb to it regardless of their actual acting talent. Professional wrestlers do this so often, that they already have an entire list of their own.
Sometimes this transition works and Frank Sinatra gets nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the 1955 noir drama The Man With the Golden Arm. Sometimes this fails, as can be attested by the most of Elvis Presley’s movie opus. Nevertheless, every so often some movie producer or other gets the bright idea of making a movie around a celebrity who can’t really act. The results are less than stellar, as you’ll see in our list of 11 Worst Movies Starring Celebrity Non-Actors.
11. Lil’ Bow Wow in Like Mike (2002)
American rapper Lil’ Bow Wow released his first album Beware of Dog in 2000 at the tender age of 13. Two years later, he starred in Like Mike, a family comedy that manages to promote both him and the NBA. Lil’ Bow Wow plays Calvin Cambridge, an orphan living under the tutelage of sinister Mr. Bittleman (played by Crispin Glover – as unsettling as ever). One day Calvin finds a magical pair of sneakers that might have belonged to Michael Jordan. These sneakers and a freak lightning strike turn Calvin into a basketball prodigy.
Soon enough, Calvin uses his unbearable cuteness to win over his NBA team mates as well as the kindly local basketball coach (Robert Forster). But creepy Mr. Bittleman has plans of his own for magical sneakers. Immanently forgettable, Like Mike managed to earn some $60 million in theaters. Despite that, Lil’ Bow Wow never pursued career in the movies, aside of several cameos and supporting roles. Instead, he has since released five other albums, became a TV host and dropped “Lil'” from his name. Currently, however, he’s back at acting under his real name, Shad Moss, on CBS’s CSI: Cyber.
10. Snoop Dogg in Bones (2001)
Bones is a horror movie inspired by the blaxploitation movies of the 1970s, which is a pretty great idea. Set in a run-down urban neighborhood, the movie follows a group of kids trying to renovate a deserted house into a night club. Its previous owner was Jimmy Bones (played by the rapper Snoop Dogg), a local gangster who protected the community in the 1970s but got murdered by corrupt cops. Two decades later, he rises from the grave and seeks vengeance.
Directed by Ernest Dickerson, Bones looks great and features Pam Grier (Jackie Brown). Unfortunately, it also has all the standard problems of a mediocre horror film, such as predictable scares and annoyingly incompetent protagonists. To top it all, there’s Snoop Dogg who, regardless of his real-life charisma, lacks acting chops to pull off a villain role like this. He ends up simply playing himself instead and Bones, after a somewhat promising start, quickly begins to test viewers’ patience.
9. Shaquille O’Neal in Kazaam (1996)
While many people fondly remember Shaquille O’Neal as a basketball legend, for some he will always be known as a rapping genie. In 1996, NBA veteran Shaquille O’Neal appeared in Kazaam, a family-friendly musical comedy about a 5000 years old genie trapped in a magic boombox who helps a New York kid (played by Francis Capra) find and reconnect with his long-lost father. The resulting film was a mess that didn’t even manage to recuperate its costs at the box office.
Reportedly, the story behind Kazaam is that director Paul Michael Glaser – a TV actor best known from the 1970s TV show Starsky & Hutch – took on this project as a way to get over the death of his wife. While the movie’s producers wanted a by-the-numbers formulaic cash grab, Glaser aimed for something a bit more heartfelt. Shaq was caught in the middle and simply did the best he could. Reportedly, he was a real nice guy to work with. Shame about the movie, though.
8. Michael Jordan in Space Jam (1996)
Look people, we are fully aware of a cherished place Space Jam holds in memories of many of our readers. However, it’s been two decades since its release and the truth must be told: legendary NBA player Michael Jordan just isn’t all that fun in it. Compared to the sheer lunacy and the anarchic energy of the Looney Tunes cartoons, poor Jordan stands no chance.
Bill Murray and Wayne Knight assist him as best as they can, but somehow, it all just peters out. No wonder, since Jordan is facing a formidable challenge even for a professional actor: not only is this his first lead role in a feature film, but he also has to act mostly around characters that exist solely on the computer screens. Shame. After this sad realization, here’s something to cheer you up: the original Space Jam website is still online in all of its 1990s glory.
7. Britney Spears in Crossroads (2002)
Remember Britney Spears? No? A former star of The Mickey Mouse Club revival, Britney Spears became famous just around the turn of millennium. Her innuendo-filled hit songs such as …Baby One More Time and Oops!… I Did It Again topped the charts and became a subject of controversy among people who never saw a MTV music video.
Soon after her third album was released in 2001, Britney Spears played the lead role in coming-of-age movie Crossroads. Her character Lucy is on a road trip across the USA with her friends Kit (Zoe Saldana) and Mimi (Orange is the New Black‘s Taryn Manning), both of which are more interesting characters than Lucy. Crossroads was written by Shonda Rhimes, just three years before Grey’s Anatomy. The movie’s director was Tamra Davis, who, in 1998, made the stoner comedy Half-Baked starring Dave Chapelle. Despite all this talent, Crossroads remains workmanlike Britney Spears vehicle.
6. Cindy Crawford in Fair Game (1995)
Within the fashion industry, supermodels are a bit like Power Rangers: they are all really awesome in what they do, until they get replaced by the newer versions. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Cindy Crawford was among the world-famous supermodels, appearing in numerous fashion shows and on magazine covers. By mid-1990s she was ready to try acting as well.
Crawford’s debut Fair Game has her play Kate McQuean, a successful lawyer who finds herself on the run after she runs afoul of the Russian mob. Kate’s sole protector is Miami police detective Max Kirkpatrick (William Baldwin). Produced by Joel Silver, Fair Game was based on a novel by Paula Gosling that was already turned into a movie in 1986 as Cobra, starring Sylvester Stallone. The first – and the last – feature film by Andrew Sipes, Fair Game failed miserably: with an estimated budget of $50 million, the movie barely earned $11 million.
5. Mariah Carey in Glitter (2001)
As a singer and a songwriter, Mariah Carey debuted in the 1990. Carey soon became one of the most successful artists in the musical industry, famous for her incredible vocal range. More than two decades into her career, Mariah Carey remains one of the most influential R&B artists out there. However, early in the 2000s, her career went into something of a slump. Her musical drama Glitter was an attempt to branch into the movie business.
Glitter is a musical melodrama that leaves no show-biz movie cliché unturned. Set in New York of the early 1980s, it’s a rags-to-riches story about Billie Frank (played by Carey), a poor orphan girl who dreams of becoming a famous singer. After the music producer Timothy Walker (Terrence Howard) ends up using her singing to cover the abysmal voice of his star Sylk (Padma Lakshmi), Billie embarks upon a solo career mentored by the producer Dice (Max Beesley). As Billie’s star brightens, Dice slowly descends into a insane jealousy. Released just a week after the 9/11 attacks, Glitter – both the movie and the accompanying soundtrack – failed miserably. It took Carey’s career four years to bounce back from this fiasco. Understandably, to this day, she refuses to discuss this film.
4. Lance Bass and Joey Fatone in On The Line (2001)
On the Line is a sappy romance for teenagers starring decidedly non-teenaged Lance Bass and Joey Fatone, former members of a former boy band sensation N*SYNC. Chris Fitzpatrick and Justin Timberlake also make a cameo appearances, bringing the total percentage of N*SYNC presence in the film up to 80%.
Lance Bass plays Kevin, a man who one day has a casual conversation with Abbie (Emmanuelle Chriqui) on a train and immediately decides he’s in love with her. Since he forgot to ask her for a phone number, he decides to plaster the entire city of Chicago with ads looking for this mysterious woman. In a move that’s somewhere between sad and creepy, Kevin’s bumbling buddies led by Rod (Joey Fatone) pretend to be Kevin and speed date women who respond to his add. By that point, nobody even cares about this movie anymore. Released in October of 2001, On The Line failed in cinemas, barely earning some $4 million on a $16 million budget.
3. Dennis Rodman in Simon Sez (1999)
Throughout his basketball career in the NBA, Dennis Rodman maintained a rather superficial brand of notoriety which mostly boiled down to his fashion choices: piercings, tattoos, unconventional hair colors and an occasional wedding dress. Rodman also appeared in wrestling matches, reality shows and in at least two movies, both of which failed at the box office.
In 1999 action comedy Simon Sez Dennis Rodman portrays an Interpol agent on a mission to uncover a stolen disk controlling some kind of super weapon. He’s also trying to rescue a kidnapped heiress (Natalia Cigliuti). And then there’s Simon’s enemy and an occasional love interest, codenamed The Dancer (Emma Sjoberg). But even that isn’t enough for this over-stuffed yet strangely hollow film. We get not one, not two but three comical sidekicks: rapping monk brothers Micro (John Pinette) and Macro (Ricky Harris) as well as an annoying CIA rookie (Dane Cook). Simon Sez was such a failure that it earned less than $300 000.
2. Paris Hilton in The Hottie & the Nottie (2008)
Paris Hilton is one of those celebrities who are mostly famous for being famous. A heiress to the Hilton family fortune, Paris Hilton first caught the public eye in 2003 by appearing in the reality show The Simple Life. Around the same time, a sex tape featuring her leaked onto the Internet. From then on Hilton appeared in several movies, but money and fame go only so far when compensating the lack of talent or charisma. Hilton’s 2008 vanity project The Hottie & the Nottie is a testament to that.
Co-produced by Hilton herself, this romantic comedy follows Cristabel Abbott (again, Hilton) who can’t find a steady boyfriend because she’s friends with the grotesquely unattractive June Phigg (Christine Lakin). The movie has a bunch of good-looking characters explain how the real beauty comes from the inside, only to then have June undergo an esthetic surgery. A miserable box office failure, The Hottie & the Nottie is widely considered today to be one of the worst movies ever made. Arguably, that’s mostly because of Paris Hilton herself.
1. Vanilla Ice in Cool As Ice (1991)
Robert Matthew Van Winkle, better known as Vanilla Ice, breakdanced into fame and into hearts of many a schoolgirl in the early 90s with his hit song Ice Ice Baby. Released in 1990, his first album To the Extreme soon became the fastest selling hip hop album in history. Vanilla Ice didn’t stop there. In 1991 he appeared in the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie as a club performer improvising a rap song celebrating our favorite ninja mutants. After that, there was no other way but down.
In 1991 Vanilla Ice starred in the teen movie Cool as Ice as a rapper who falls in love with a small town beauty Kathy (Kristin Minter). His feelings are reciprocated by Kathy as Vanilla is the coolest thing in the town populated by the relics of the 1950s. However, Kathy’s dad (Michael Gross) is in a Witness Protection Program and his enemies pick just this time to strike. Will Vanilla Ice prevail against these corrupt cops? Will Kathy stay with her bully boyfriend Nick (John Haymes Newton)? The answers should be self-evident.
Can you think of any other bad movies starring non-actors? Let us know in the comments!